Pros and cons of moving to Moscow
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Moscow can be an exciting place to live. With its dramatic history and politics, life can never be considered boring in the Russian capital. Nevertheless, expats in Moscow may experience frustrations including bureaucracy, a difficult language adjustment and extreme weather conditions. However, the city nonetheless offers an attractive lifestyle with its active social life and rich arts and culture scene.
Accommodation in Moscow
As one of Europe’s largest cities, finding the perfect apartment or house amongst the roughly 12 million inhabitants can be challenging.
+ PRO: Many different options
There are many different types of accommodation available in Moscow for expats to choose from. Expats are just as likely to find themselves in a pre-revolutionary apartment with high ceilings, thick walls and interesting architecture as in a modern apartment block with good facilities and hi-tech features. There are also a number of international compounds with other expats, offering sports facilities and social activities right around the corner.
- CON: High demand and expensive
With so many people living in Moscow, housing is in great demand and therefore very expensive. Historically, apartments are fairly small and expats may be disappointed with what their money can buy. Realistically, size, quality and location are the most important factors influencing the cost of accommodation in Moscow.
Lifestyle in Moscow
+ PRO: Great social scene
There is so much to do in Moscow, with activities to cater for every interest. Most groups and organizations are well organised and welcoming to newcomers. The expat community is busy throughout the year with balls and charity events.
Nightlife within the city is excellent, with a variety of bars, clubs and restaurants to choose from. The quality of museums, art galleries, theatres and concerts is also outstanding.
Moscow is also becoming more child and family friendly. Museums such as the Planetarium and Experimentarium are especially exciting for children. There are also several circuses for more entertainment.
- CON: Heavy traffic and eating out can be expensive
Bad traffic can put people off travelling in and around Moscow, although the metro system is generally clean, efficient and safe. Restaurants can be extremely expensive.
Education and schools in Moscow
+ PRO: International schools are available
There are a number of international schools in Moscow offering excellent quality education and facilities. There are also good private Russian schools, although only a small percentage of expat children attend these.
- CON: Demand is high and space is limited
The demand for schools outweighs the supply and therefore schools in Moscow can be expensive with long waiting lists. Schools are usually located outside of central Moscow. As a consequence of this, unless expats live close to the school, children will have to travel some distance by school bus or car each day.
Climate in Moscow
+ PRO: Many winter and summer outdoor activities
The climate in Moscow is fairly extreme. Winter can be beautiful in Moscow with blue skies and sunshine on the white snow. Cross-country skiing is popular with expats and ice-skating is possible all over the city as many playgrounds are made into ice-rinks. Summer is a great time to explore Moscow as the city is generally quieter. There are lakeside and river beaches in Moscow where expats and locals alike can take advantage of the good weather.
- CON: Long winters
The extreme winter weather can make living in Moscow challenging for most of the year.
Crime in Moscow
+ PRO: Low crime rate
Despite its size, Moscow feels surprisingly safe. Expats should take precautions that they would take in any city and avoid walking alone late at night.
- CON: Bribery and corruption
Bribery and corruption are still issues and expats are sometimes affected by this. It's also not uncommon to find incidents of racism in Moscow.
Healthcare in Moscow
+ PRO: Medical facilities are of a high standard
There are a number of private medical centres in Moscow with well-trained doctors who can, in most cases, speak English. Dental treatment is also of a high standard in the city.
- CON: Difficult to get to a medical facility
Moscow's size and infamous traffic can make it difficult for expats to get to their nearest medical facility. Some expat compounds have a satellite medical centre on site. Medical treatment is sometimes expensive, although the majority of expats have insurance covering these costs. Dental treatment is also expensive, although fairly competitive with other European prices.
Public transport in Moscow
+ PRO: Comprehensive public transport system
Moscow has an impressive public transport system. The metro is not only clean, safe, efficient and fast; it is also a tourist attraction. Daily tours explore the metro system guides show tourists through some of the city's most beautiful stations. These stations often resemble palaces, with sculptures, mosaics and even chandeliers. There is also an extensive bus, trolleybus and tram route throughout Moscow. Many of Moscow’s buses now have Wi-Fi access.
- CON: Crowded public transport during rush hour
As many of the metro stations and trains haven’t changed all their signs to showing both the Cyrillic alphabet and Latin alphabet, it is important that one can read place names in Russian. Rush hour on the metro can be unpleasantly full.